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"Russia Must Learn From The Past", Institute Says


MOSCOW, February 9, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --

Putin's generation has brought about stability and job security, leading Russia expert claims

Oleg Bondarenko, director of the Russian-Ukrainian Information Center, publicist and politologist, has said that Russian's risk their livelihoods if they seek change.

Bondarenko said: "The country is getting ready for the protests. Slowly recovering after the New Year parties, those who were totally satisfied yesterday now grit their teeth and wait for the presidential elections. The times of stability and political boredom are over; the days of the anxious anticipation have come.

"Vyacheslav Volodin, acting in lieu of Surkov, preferred simplicity to blossoming complexity and decided to get things done in the first round of elections. Sure enough, it may provoke the protest activity with the peaks somewhere in late March or early April, depending on the weather conditions. It's much warmer in April than in December, one can easily protest for days. Like they did on the Ukrainian Maidan.

"At the end of the previous year Russia and Ukraine swapped places as if they were in collusion. After losing Yulia Timoshenko, one of its main ingredients, the boiling broth of the Ukrainian politics started to turn into meagre borsch. At the same time the Russian asphalt, trampled under the Nashi's feet, suddenly burst with wonderful shoots of the new generation "P" leaders. "P" here stands for Putin, not for Pepsi. It is the very generation of the 70-80s, which saw the 90s and blossomed in 2000s. Not to confuse the term with Pelevin's "Generation P", let's call it "Generation Pu". Even having the most mundane job, they are the so-called "creative class". IPhone and IPad users, the audience of the Kvartet I, Rain TV and Dmitry Medvedev. They got to their feet during the epoch of 'Putinomics', and remembered about their civil rights at just another tasty dinner. For sure they don't owe anyone, but themselves, do they? Even with all the grafters and thieves, however you slice it, high oil prices and all the other nice things about the energetics super profits set the basis of economic security for the business growth, while previously they could have just been embezzled or stolen completely. And now that you've bought your cars and even called in the credits (not all of them, though), there is time to think about the freedom? Obviously, financial freedom leads to individual freedom. But are all the protesters on Bolotnaya Square sure that under some hypothetical president Navalny they will still be paid the same high salaries?

"Kara-Murza is right, remember who was in the core of the anti-Soviet protests of the early 90s on Manezhnaya Square? Soviet engineers, white collars. In modern parlance: "educated plankton". Who turned out to be the main beneficiary of the so-called victory of democracy in 1991? A cunning machine politician and businessman, who had never even attended any protest of that kind. Today we run the risk of going through the unlearned lesson once again. And Bolotnaya and Sakharov protests' beneficiaries won't even be related to those who actually protested. It can even be any of the numerous politicians of the past, few of whom avoided being jeered on December 24th.

"We already saw this happen to our neighbors on the Maidan on 2004, when the struggling middle class people from Kiev and nearby towns used their own cars to bring oranges, felt boots and others things indispensable in winter to the encampment on Khreschatyk. After that they suddenly realized that they were of no use and significance for the new-old revolution leaders. Kiev's main square features another show: a wide-known and understandable leader, embodiment of the Ukrainian politics "landmark change". The ex adverso union (Yanukovitch) was aimed at a certain politician, namely Viktor Yushchenko, whose face with the signs of poisoning made it easy to unify a lot of different people crying out his name, and not necessarily with love.

"The steering committee of the fair elections rally, unlike Ukrainians in 2004, can only dream about a strong leader. Webcasts of its meetings served as a best proof of the opposition being absolutely helpless. And the further they go, the more contradictions will arise between the so different Sergey Pakhomenko and Konstantin Krylov, or Ilya Ponomaryov and Boris Nemtsov. Sure enough, it took all the Maidan front men less than half a year to start brawling. But the most important for them was to have a single flag above their heads during the elections. One cannot underrate the role of a personality in history. Probably that's why the White House protectors failed in October 1993 - they didn't have a single leader.

"Alexey Navalny, the only one having the potential to unify the rallying people, has all the chances for a serious political growth in the upcoming 5-6 years, Vladimir Putin's third term. As of today, neither he, nor his supporters have any positive action plan. This was made obvious by the three interviews with Navalny, taken by the writer Akunin. The only revelation worth the distinguished audience's attention was considering the fact that "the elite won't organize repressions in Russia because it can make the western world stop loving it". Everything else in these interviews is as informative as a rock ("We need a system, yet we don't have it") and doesn't make anything clear. Yet it's high time to hear from Alexey Navalny about his plans to reform judiciary and law-enforcement systems, to get rid of all the grafters and thieves on all levels, how to build an economy without bribe. "Stop feeding the Caucasus!" - this assertion is understandable if we speak about the high-handed local elite (which, actually, exists everywhere), but not about the impoverished population of the mountain republics. Or maybe you really want the collapse of the Russian Federation? There is still no answer to these questions. There is only superfluous flow of revolutionary compliments from both interlocutors. But this is not the worst. Being able to at least once gather a crowd of more than 100 thousand people (which was proven on the Sakharov prospect), nearly any politician will be seduced to exercise this power right here and right now. As the possible peak of rallying activity will take place about mid-March after the elections, it is highly probable there will be provocations. The situation can easily veer out of control. If the official authorities continue playing their parallel agenda in a hurry to end the pre-election period, any Bolotnaya politician (not necessarily Navalny) can sense his historical short-term chance and make the sentence "there are enough of us here to seize the Kremlin" a guide to action. There is no way to predict any possible consequences of that. One can be sure of a single thing - Russia, as we know it, will cease to exist. There will be a lot of characters ready to take advantage of the situation, who still remain in the shadows.

"The phenomenon of the Putin generation is still to be explored. Those who used to respect Putin for his power, aged 20-30, for the first time started to think of themselves as of "we", not as of "I", which was quite a new experience. People on Sakharov prospect are only in the beginning of the way to see themselves as a nation ready to rally and claim their rights. The Maidan, to the contrary, was a conclusion of many years of suppressed protest campaigns "Ukraine without Kuchma", which, unlike "Strategy 31" gathered thousands of people.

"There is also a great difference in the social level and background of the protesters from the Maidan and Bolotnaya square. Country folk who came to support their dear Ukrainian against angry citizens of the Russian capital - office workers who live in Moscow and can afford anything but, probably, a new car (40% of those, who rallied on 24.12.2011, 28% have enough money even for a car; a survey by "Levada-center").  

"The need for respect grows with the contents of one's wallet. But do those, who speak about the need to change the government, realize that revolution may put an end to the well-off lives of their supporters. I doubt that Prokhorov, who might as well get all these votes, would take care of them."

Oleg Bondarenko is director of the Russian-Ukrainian Information Center, publicist and politologist

SOURCE Russia Insights

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